It seems we Americans observe a lot of holidays and in our town we celebrate with parades. The whole community comes out to cheer, wave and catch up with people they haven’t seen since last year’s parade. The Christmas parade is famous for drawing thousands of people from surrounding states the first Sunday of December every year. Streets are blocked off and diehards begin saving their spots with blankets and lawn chairs on Saturday night. Everyone lines up along the route in freezing temperatures laughing and visiting as if they were on the lake in the middle of July. There’s something about tradition that brings the crazy out in people. Proof is in the Polar Bear plunge. I think that’s midwinter boredom out of control.

We celebrate Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veterans Day, Boss’ Day, Secretary’s Day, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and the list goes on and on. Our kids even thought pay day was somewhere on that list.

Today is Ground Hog’s Day. We smile in Missouri, but in Pennsylvania it’s serious business. In Punxsutawney, on Gobbler’s Nob, Phil, the official ground hog is disturbed from hibernation to determine if winter is over or if we’ll have to endure six more weeks. If he doesn’t see his shadow warmer weather is on the away. If he does see his shadow we’re sunk. That’s a huge responsibility for a rodent.

There are ceremonies, banquets, parties, dances and even pre and post Ground Hog Day festivities in observance of a tradition that began in the late 1800s. In 1993 the movie Ground Hog Day opened staring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Bill Murray’s character, Phil, an arrogant weather reporter was assigned to cover the Ground Hog Day activities on Gobblers Nob. Because a snow storm hit the area and closed the roads the TV crew had to stay in the local bed and breakfast an extra night.

The next morning Phil woke up to Ground Hog Day again. He magically got stuck in February 2nd and it was relived and relived and relived. It was as if he was given chance after change to do it right. At first he fought it, but realized the best thing was to go with it and learn from it. By the end of the movie Phil had transformed into a wonderful kind of a guy.

We really are given the same kind of opportunity every day. Obviously not reliving the exact day, but we are given endless chances to get it right. Chuck Swindoll tells the story of his grandfather teaching him to drive: When he asked me to pull the car into the garage I misjudged the distance and smashed into the doorway. My granddad just smiled and said, “Back it up and try again”.

What a great lessons we can learn from Phil and Chuck’s granddad. When we smash things up, don’t fight it, go with it and learn from it, and when necessary back it up and try again.

Happy Ground Hog Day!

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